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This diary bears the seal of Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick, made around 1344: S(IGILLUM) THO(M)E COMITIS WARRWYCHIE ANNO REGNI REGIS E(DWARDII) TE(RT)II... ("Seal of Thomas, Count (Earl) of Warwick in the years of the reign of King Edward the Third"). He displays on his surcoat, shield and horse's caparison the arms of Beauchamp, and carries on his helm as crest, a swan's head and neck.
A seal was used as a “rubber stamp” to confer legality on any important document that bore the owner’s name. The imprinted wax wasn’t delicate candle wax, but “sealing wax” which sets much harder. The stamp was often placed on the document itself, or they could be attached to the parchment or scroll by a small silk ribbon, or with braided cords. The custom predated the Middle Ages even. For example, the one belonging to Æthelwold, a 9th century Bishop of East Anglia still survives. The one depicted on this exquisite diary is a typical example of a high ranking nobleman’s seal. To avoid fakery, such seals were intentionally intricate and artistic. Kings and high nobility used them frequently, but as the Middle Ages progressed, corporate bodies, cathedral chapters, municipalities and monasteries increasingly adopted them for their own affairs too.